I vaguely recall doing a detailed comparison on how the UK holds up against the rest of Western Europe when it comes to protections and penalties. We were about mid table. We weren’t the weakest of all, we were way short of being the most robust. Switzerland faired pretty well though. Perfect? No. You’ll never get a perfect anything. Better than here? Yes.
The difference between the UK and a country like Switzerland is vast though. The main difference is this – imagine you wanted to take these issues and make them a thing in a country like Switzerland. Then imagine doing it here in the UK. The difference would be vast and why? Because, relatively speaking, Switzerland is a very safe and peaceful place and there’s not really a whole lot going on there. When was the last time you heard a huge story coming out of Switzerland when compared to the UK?
(Cheese. Massive news in the Swiss press)
Just look at our press on any day of the week. Its a certified basket case of terrorism, mass murder, Brexit, elections, independence chat, involvement in some conflict etc etc. In the UK it just never ends. If you want even close to your share of coverage for these issues then you have to work ten times as hard as you would to get it in Switzerland.
Switzerland also functions with a direct democracy and not a (laughs) representative democracy which is what we are meant to have. What does that mean? It means that on an issue like ours it would in theory be a lot easier just to garner the popular vote and get it through, the longer sentences, everything we’ve ever mentioned as key.
We obviously cannot make the UK into Switzerland. We have problems and issues that they do not generally have, and some of those problems and issues are as serious as you can get.
We’re not going to be able to make all these issues which constantly blight our country and press go away, so the only recommendation I could fairly make to people in this country is this – you just need to work ten times as hard to get some share of the press, and you may need to work twenty times as hard under the constraints of a representative democracy which is so slow moving and very often flat out incompetent.
See it as a British newspaper editor would. Consider the vast array of huge stories that happen here daily and consider that he must decide what to devote space to. This is esp crucial in the news sections. The reality is this – when you reflect on events in this country in just the last month alone, the press editor here is going to have to be really quite taken if he’s to afford the issue of pet abuse any serious and on going space.
Thus my recommendation would be that not only does it require ten times more effort than you’d need in Switzerland but that it be done in ways and in a style that can be justified as an on going news story to the press.
Like it or not you are going to need the press here. The press still forms the public narrative in this country, they can determine what issues people find hot topics and which aren’t. The press are still one of the few entities that Governments do fear for the press even have the power to bring down a Government if they so wished. You will need to give them strong reasons to devote space and to keep on doing so.
Social media also has its place in shaping public outlook, but its still generally the press who hold the big red button when it comes to dominating the narrative.
The other big differences between the UK and Switzerland are population size and demographics. In short – Switzerland isn’t very heavily populated and its nearly all just Swiss. The UK is far more populated and its much harder to get a consensus with the very mixed make up of the UK.
London also has a second chamber, basically another cash cow for old politicians and others who were made ‘Lords’. Its meant to act as some sort of buffer to the first house but in my view of things it doesn’t seem very dynamic. It looks like a bunch of pensioners half asleep. Maybe I am wrong and they are all just in a state of deep meditation!
We cant really abolish the House of Lords in order to get this done, just as we cannot ‘be Switzerland’.
This is where I’d propose you be tactical. When you want to eat what looks like too large a cake, how would you best do it? Slice by slice and over a short time the cake would be gone. Trying to stuff it all in at one go will just cause you to choke.
Set against all the special issues that you’d be faced with in the UK, what you do is annexe it. You isolate the part of the UK which is you think you can best open with – then you use that success to drag the rest along with you.
That’s certainly how I’ll be seeking to do it, it gives us the best possible chance of success for all in the end. Its not the only way to do it, but for all of the reasons I’ve listed, its what I believe to be the best way when working in a problematic country like the UK.
You take part of the UK, you essentially turn that into some shining example to the rest, and hey presto, now everyone else has something big and real to hold up within the UK that they can argue for UK wide.
This country is one big state based bureaucratic mess. Either by accident or design this country wasn’t really set up in such a way that good ideas happen fast.
Not even good ideas that would save lives nor even those recommended by experts in a given field tend to result in what you’d call dynamic action by over paid and under worked state officials.
This means what appears the most direct route may not always be the best route. In the UK you could say London and Westminster is the most ‘direct’ route, but when you actually sit down and consider London, consider Westminster, consider all these major things that totally dominate the narrative there – then it becomes clear that the most direct route is not that most likely to yield ultimate success.
If there’s enough fight in the dog then against all the odds people can probably not only reach the level Switzerland enjoy but go beyond it.